Saturday 5 December is the United Nations World Soil Day and this year’s theme is ‘keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity’.

Soil is one of the most important assets on your farm and looking after and improving soil health should always be in focus across all farm types.

Healthy soil can contribute to a healthier farm profit. So maybe use World Soil Day as a reminder to take your soil samples and analyse your soil test results.

You could also pick up a spade and go out and dig down into your soil and see how healthy it is.

Can you see insects and worms? Is the ground hard or is it easy to work? Is it easily poached?

What can be done to improve soil indexes, health and structure?

Soil indices, health and structure can be improved using many different methods. The first thing to do is to carry out soil tests.

Fertiliser application rates should then be applied accordingly. Phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) levels are ideal at index 3 and this should be the target.

Your soil test will also tell you if lime is required on the farm. Keeping soil pH at optimum levels can play a significant role in improving fertiliser use efficiency.

A soil test is a good place to start on the road to improvement

Applying farmyard manure is an excellent way of increasing biological activity in the soil and also has the potential to increase P and K levels.

If there are areas of compaction on tillage ground, farmers might consider planting a deep-rooting catch crop next season.

This catch crop will also help to take up nutrients from the soil over winter and make those nutrients available to the following crop. This can also prevent nutrient losses to the environment.

Simple steps can make a big difference to production and profit. A soil test is a good place to start on the road to improvement.